Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) sent a letter on Thursday to Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, seeking "current information" about the number of individuals who have been granted Social Security Numbers, or applied for them, under President Obama's various deferred action programs, beginning with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in June 2012.
Sessions, who chairs an immigration subcommittee, is co-sponsoring Sasse's newly introduced bill, titled "Amnesty Bonuses Elimination Act." The bill would prohibit the issuance of Social Security Numbers to individuals receiving deferred deportation under President Obama's executive actions.
“The American people have a right to know the full costs of President Obama's unlawful executive amnesty,” Sasse said in a March 13 news release announcing his bill.
"The White House unilaterally re-wrote the laws, and taxpayers are just beginning to learn the full scope of these actions. Congress has a duty to conduct oversight and hold the Administration accountable for its actions and use of taxpayer dollars.”
The Social Security program provides monthly cash benefits to retired and disabled workers and their dependents and to the qualified survivors of deceased workers.
At the request of Sasse and Sessions, the Congressional Research Service examined if noncitizens granted deferred action might be eligible for those benefits. The short answer is yes:
In its March 10 report, CRS noted that under Obama's Nov. 20, 2014 executive actions, foreign nationals who receive deferred action status may be eligible for work authorization. "As a result, a foreign national who receives deferred action status may be able to have all of his or her Social Security-covered earnings count toward qualifying for a Social Security benefit."
This includes "all earnings from authorized and unauthorized work." Unauthorized work means any earnings acquired illegally, before deferred action, when the illegal alien was using a false or fraudulent Social Security Number.
The CRS report also noted that noncitizens must be "lawfully present" in the U.S. to receive benefits. And it found that foreign nationals "in deferred action status are considered lawfully present."
A spokesman for Sessions noted that many of those in deferred-action status are low-income, and therefore they would withdraw far more from Social Security than they would contribute:
"This would greatly accelerate the depletion of Social Security and reduce the likelihood that younger Americans will have reliable benefits on which to retire," Stephen Miller said. "Once again, we see how the amnesty and low-wage immigration push imperils working class families."